Parliamentary elections are being held in both Britain and France this month, with the spectre of terrorism dominating the polls. Great cities on each side of the Channel have suffered horribly because of acts of immense evil in recent weeks, and it is quite right that all candidates want to stake their claims to combatting the scourge.
What will not assist in the fight, however, is the bombast of influential figures using the barbarity to further their own poisonous agendas. The way in which they fit depraved and psychotic killers inspired by a monstrous corruption of Islam into their own extremism is as cynical as it is destructive.
Such commentators want to divide society by spreading collective guilt to millions of Muslims who are repulsed by organised crime, which is exactly what terrorism is. They ignore centuries of intensely violent dissent in both Britain and France, to pretend that it all started with the unspecified “arrival” of their detested enemies.
Never mind that Irish Catholics were behind the vast majority of murderous terrorism in the UK prior to 2005. Forget that mainly white Christian officers of the terrorist OAS Secret Army Organisation targeted men, women and children in mainland France with guns and plastic explosives as they tried to prevent Algerian independence in the 1960s. That the very word “terrorism” was coined in the French capital to describe the atrocities that grew out of the idealism of the 1789 Revolution is also conveniently ignored.
No, according to the furious bigots, terrorism begins and continues with Muslims, and the solution is a reduction in their very presence in Europe. Thus they call for internment and deportations. The overlap between Muslims and those from ethnic minority backgrounds is too much to resist among those pursuing reactionary policies underpinned by hate.
The most high-profile offender in this respect is, of course, Donald Trump, the hugely deceitful American President who falsely claimed that there were police no-go-zones in Britain and France. This was while he was enthusing about a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.
During a few days when mass shootings claimed five lives in Orlando, Florida, and eight in Mississippi, adding to yearly gun crime death tolls that are infinitely higher than any linked to jihadi terrorism, Trump used the London stabbings to bait the city’s Muslim Mayor. He tweeted that Sadiq Khan has said there was “no reason to be alarmed” by the murder of seven people, and the wounding of 48 others last Saturday night. What Khan had actually said was that Londoners should not be alarmed by the increased police presence on their streets following the carnage.
Such vicious social media attacks on Sadiq Khan not only diminished Trump’s claim to being a world statesman, but was further evidence of the US faker-in-chief promoting racist ideas rooted in absolute fantasy. They are the kind pursued by plenty of politicians in France and Britain.
Marine Le Pen, the Front National leader, will next week once again try to become an MP following 24 years of abject failure, all the while expressing her deep antipathy towards perceived aliens. She was roundly defeated in the presidential elections by Emmanuel Macron, but she is now back all over the media, endlessly conflating terrorism with “immigrant” communities.
In fact, just as Americans are seven times more likely to be killed by right-wing extremists than those driven by an obscene perversion of Islam, one in three terrorism suspects arrested in the UK last year was white and thus did not conform to the cliché of the dark-skinned fiend defiling western civilisation. As the self-styled “proud and patriotic British Muslim” Khan pointed out, terrorism has “nothing to do with the true values of Islam” either. On the contrary, it is an aberration caused by a range of factors, all of which need to be approached with dispassionate pragmatism.
Far closer controls on Englishmen who, as in the case of London murderer Khuram Butt, reveal their extremism in TV documentaries called The Jihadi Next Door would be an obvious start. So too would be preventing delinquents like Manchester-born bomber Salman Abedi from travelling backwards and forwards to Libya, a country ultimately turned into a terrorist training ground by the disastrous Anglo-French led military campaign there in 2011. It is politicians who recognise such alarming facts, and are prepared to deal with them responsibly, who deserve success in the forthcoming elections in both France and Britain.
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